Carbon Monoxide Detection provides local family with security

May 23, 2011

In recognition of National Air Quality Awareness week, Garfield, Eagle, Mesa, and Pitkin counties, along with the City of Aspen and the US EPA, have partnered together to raise awareness about indoor and outdoor air quality issues, encouraging our communities to ‘share the air.’

On her Facebook page that day, Lixy Alcorta posted, “everyone should get a carbon monoxide detector. I feel like it saved our lives today.” She and her two young children were just returning from church when she heard an alarm going off inside her home. The alarm said ‘Danger, carbon monoxide.’ “We were about to put the kids down for a nap, if we hadn’t heard the alarm going off … I can’t even imagine.”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, tasteless, and can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, it causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. Home heating devices such as furnaces, wood stoves, or fireplaces can produce carbon monoxide (CO) if they are not venting properly or are not being properly maintained. It can also come from tobacco smoke, car exhaust, gas stoves, generators, and other gas powered equipment.

“People are more aware in light of the tragedy in Aspen,” said Kristin Davis of Bishop Plumbing and Heating. Bishop has employees certified in carbon monoxide detection. Davis says that calls on CO are pretty frequent in high use times.” Ron Schiller with the EPA Region 8 in Denver, says that it is particularly concerning for people without detectors, because they may be exposing themselves to levels of CO. He advocates that people purchase audible alarm systems with a battery backup that will function in a power failure. Schiller advises that people should look at the ‘parts per million’ of CO that a particular detector measures, as some models only pick up high levels of CO.

According to Schiller, CO alarms are a backup, not a replacement for regular maintenance. Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating systems (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Schiller recommends homeowners repair any leaks right away – this simple action could save your life.

You can find more information on carbon monoxide by calling Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200.

Carbon monoxide